P L E A S E  W A I T...

Being a Manager of Web Analytics, How Should I Prepare Myself for the Upcoming Holiday Season?

As we are approaching the Holiday Season of the year and lots of pressure and excitement is building up; it’s important that, being a Web Analytics Manager, we proactively lay the foundation for this upcoming holiday season, and facilitate an environment where there is less chaos. So; here is a post I would like to dedicate to my Web Analytics Manager Friends and Colleagues, who works day and night to serve the business teams, and constantly strive to find opportunities for Site and Marketing Budget Optimization.

I have broken down this blog post into 2 main categories i.e. Operational Readiness and Proactive Measures so; enjoy reading it and please, don’t forget to share your valuable comments and feedback.

Operational Readiness

Data Latency: Being a Web Analytics Manager, the first and foremost thing you need to make sure is that, your web analytics solution is capable of handling the traffic spikes during the peak hours of the day and avoid showing data latency issues. Here at Nabler, we work with various Fortune 500 companies, and some of these brands experience a lift of 35-50% in their Weekly Visits and Unique Visitors count, and by the time they reach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this goes up to 55-77%, which is just insane amount of traffic to handle and load balance by your web analytics vendor if, they are not prepared to handle this kind of volume. So; if you are an Adobe Customer and using SiteCatalyst on your website, go to the ADMIN section of your tool and bump up your Daily Page Views Limit by at least 35-40% by first week of October so that, Adobe allocates extra hardware resources for you to load balance your traffic, and you can avoid the embarrassment of telling your executives during the peak days that “Sorry, our data is showing latency and I can’t give you Hourly Update”.

Online Dashboards: Make sure, your Ecommerce, Merchandising, and Digital Marketing dashboards are created and scheduled for delivery to the key stakeholders in the company. Here at Nabler, every year in the month of September, we approach all our existing and new clients and check with them whether, they have set up their Ecommerce, Merchandising, and Marketing Dashboards yet. If not, we set up these dashboards for them and schedule them for weekly delivery to their mailbox.

Product Training for Business Team: Every year during the holiday season, we used to experience a lot of ad-hoc data requests from the merchandising, content and marketing teams, and 65-70% of these requests used to repetitive and takes a significant amount of time of the analyst. To avoid that; 3 years ago we created a strategy here at Nabler i.e. “Web Analytics Friday’s”. These are weekly 90 minutes session to educate and empower the business teams on, how to smartly and efficiently extract data from the web analytics solution, and take quick actions based on that. It reduced the number of ad-hoc requests by more than 65% during the holiday season and gave our team a privilege to spend more time with their families at home and avoid this damn repetitive work.

Traffic & Conversion Alerts: During the Holiday season, every executive would like to have hourly and weekly alerts send to their mobiles via SMS or, as an email notification to their mailbox. So; being a Web Analytics Manager, it’s important that we coordinate with the executives prior to the Holiday season kicks-off, and determine all those key traffic and conversion metrics against which, they would like to have alerts been setup. Here are some commonly requested alerts from Nabler team:

  • Weekly Visits Decline or Surge
  • Weekly Unique Visitors Decline or Surge
  • Daily Visits Decline or Surge
  • Daily Unique Visitors Decline or Surge
  • Daily Revenue Surge or Decline
  • Weekly Revenue Surge or Decline

Tracking On-site Banner Ads: Holiday season means, lot of promotional activities and placement of banners ads on the website. Hence, being a Web Analytics Manager, I need to make sure that, our Content/Creative team is doing a diligent job of embedding the relevant tracking codes in the destination URLs via CMS tool. If we are creating content using FLASH/FLEX or HTML5, I need to coordinate with our creative agency putting together these components to embed the analytics code with-in the component files so that, whenever the visitor engage with these Rich-Media elements, it triggers the code.

Tracking External Campaigns: During the Holiday season, we experience a surge in the Digital Marketing spend across the board, and the majority of this budget goes towards SEM, Affiliates, and Email channel. So, being a Web Analytics Manager, it’s my responsibility that, I coordinate with the Digital Marketing Manager at my company or client end, and identify all those channels through which we are going to launch new marketing campaigns, and make sure, our marketing team is doing a diligent job of following the standard tracking code guidelines for those channels.

Strategic or Proactive Measures

Identify Opportunities for Optimization: Being a Web Analytics Manager, I constantly strive for finding opportunities for optimization on the website, and in order to be proactive in this regards, I always keep my alerts active and the moment I see a sudden decline or surge in the traffic and conversion numbers, I notify the relevant departments in the organization and provide a business case for optimization.

Product & Category Recommendations: Here at Nabler, every year during the month of August and September, we leverage our Predictive Analytics team for determining the type of Products and Categories our clients should be recommending or promoting during the Holiday Season, and being a Web Analytics Manager, it’s my responsibility to reach out to our Online Merchandising Manager and coordinate with him in terms of, when, where and what products we should be promoting during the Holiday Season, and then, gauging the impact on Revenue, Average Order Value, and Average Basket Size.

Forecasting of Traffic and Conversion Numbers: Before the Holiday Season kicks-off, it’s very important to forecast the Traffic and Conversion numbers to calculate the % of standard deviation during the holiday season. Being a Web Analytics Manager, we look at the last year performance of all Paid Marketing Channels, Products, Categories, and Brands, and determine the list of action items for the Digital Marketing and Merchandising Teams to act on. This list comprises of following items:

  • What Marketing Channels performed above and below the expectations?
  • What Campaigns performed above and below the expectations?
  • What were the Top Performing and Bottom Converting Products, Categories and Brands of last season?
  • What lift we saw in the Traffic and Conversion numbers relative to the previous year and previous quarter?
  • What kind of optimizations we did which made a significant impact in the conversion numbers?
  • Overall, what lessons we learned during the last Holiday Season?

While, it’s difficult to be fool proof on preparations for Holiday season but, by taking the above proactive and operational measures, you can anticipate most of the issues and reduce the % of dependency on the Web Analytics Team significantly, and make the business teams self-dependent and proactive in terms of finding opportunities for optimization.

So let’s welcome the Holiday Season with open arms, and prepare ourselves to enjoy the season fully

Drive better results by understanding customer data