How is March Madness Like Web Analytics, You Ask?

March 17, 2016 Andrew Geddes

March Madness is upon us, and whether you’re a fan of basketball or not, you’ve probably filled out a bracket for the NCAA Tournament. Each participant has his or her own strategy, but when those first games tip off, it doesn’t matter how solid you thought your plan was—madness ensues.

Do you ever experience the same thing as an analyst? You put together a plan, pour over it for hours upon hours, set up all your tags and then keep tweaking until you’re confident everything is ready to go. Then those tags go live, and there’s one thing we can always count on with the wide world of web analytics—madness ensues!

Even though the first weekend of the tournament is chock-full with upsets and Cinderella teams, there are some things that you can usually count on each year. With your analytics, however, you can always count on some madness, but there are tools you can use and actions you can take to become a champion of your analytics data.

Use best practices for building your bracket

The NCAA Tournament is always unpredictable, but there are certain things that hold true year after year. For instance, a 16 seed team has never defeated a 1 seed. The people who win their bracket pool are usually those who do their research. Sure, there are fringe cases where someone who picks based on the fuzziest mascots beats a group of basketball fanatics, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

In the game of web analytics, you’ll never be able to succeed without doing your research. You need to build your bracket, your solution design reference (SDR) or variable map, using industry best practices in order to develop a well defined implementation plan.

Establish your organization’s business objectives for your web analytics:

  • What are you trying to accomplish from collecting your data? “We want to see everything and anything,” does not qualify as a solid plan. Identify the KPIs of your organization and the industry to define your data collection goals.
  • What metrics are critical to your business objectives? Page views, conversions, revenue, etc.
  • Who will be consuming your web analytics data? It’s one thing to collect the data and have it stored in a nice data warehouse, but unless you have a data manager or a whole analytics team utilizing it, you might as well not even bother collect it.

Data quality solutions like ObservePoint can provide variable and release validation services, that measure your live implementations against you defined plan, alerting you to any discrepancies.

Don’t get caught up in the Cinderella hype

Since the first few days of the Tournament always lean toward madness, there’s a tendency to pick too many upsets and put too much faith in the Cinderellas. There’s a reason teams like Duke and Michigan State frequently wind up in the final four.

Don’t get caught putting your trust in data that may be inaccurate.

Complications such as duplicate tags, multiple requests, missing tags and various tag versions can lead to inflation or inaccuracies within your analytics data. Technologies like ObservePoint scan your site for all tagging implementations and identify these issues automatically.

Certain metrics and analytics data may look like Cinderella on paper, but a closer look reveals an evil stepsister.

Balance wins championships

According to the numbers, teams that make the final four are consistently rated as “balanced teams” meaning their offensive and defensive efficiencies are relatively similar. So throw out the old “defense wins championships” motto because balance is the name of the game.

To be a champion of your analytics, you must follow a balanced approach as well.

You can’t expect to have accurate data if you’re only addressing implementation issues after they become a real problem, or if you’re constantly implementing the latest and greatest tools without properly fixing prior mistakes.

Here’s how you can go on the data offensive, while continuing to defend against inaccuracies.

1. Set up frequent audits of your implementations:

Audit your web analytics before, during, and after any updates or new releases to verify that your implementations are still in place and functioning correctly. Many SaaS companies will have new releases as frequently as every week, and releases can cause disruptions to your integrations. It could take mere days to completely derail a successful analytics implementation.Regular audits, regardless of updates, are also necessary to defend against the madness of the web when links break, tags go missing, pathways malfunction, etc.

2. Create business compliance rules:

It’s one thing to run a scan of your site to make sure your tags are present, but even more important is ensuring that all your variables, events, and props are firing according to your implementation plan defined by your SDR. Tools like ObservePoint’s business compliance technology gives you the ability to set and monitor these rules and to receive alerts whenever your site fails to meet compliance.

3. Monitor your critical paths:

Every organization has certain conversion paths or actions on their site that are most important to the business and it’s vital to validate that the data is being collected for these actions and attributed properly.Functions like ObservePoint’s User Journey tracker can simulate web activities and critical paths, not only to ensure that these actions work on your site, but also to monitor the variable and analytics implementations, checking for functionality. ObservePoint alerts notify you immediately if your events or variables aren’t firing as expected.

Become a Champion of your web analytics

Only one team will be cutting down the nets this April after surviving the madness of March—but ObservePoint’s Data Quality Assurance solution gives any analyst or digital marketing professional the ability to be a true champion over their web analytics data. Start a complimentary site audit to become a champion today!


About the Author

Andrew Geddes

Andrew helps ObservePoint customer's keep their data clean and accurate. As the manager of the consulting team he focuses on building processes to make data governance as easy as possible for the end users. Andrew has been with ObservePoint for nearly 5 years and has previous experience in the SaaS industry with companies like Workday and Gartner. As an avid sports fan you can often find Andrew watching sports or playing golf in his free time. Prior to jumping into the SaaS world he spent time in sports broadcasting at Brigham Young University, and local ESPN radio.

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