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If you are responsible, in whole or in part, for the success of a web site, then this post is for you.

Web Analytics is moving up the food chain as those at the top realise that it’s no longer optional. What does that mean for you, how can you make this work for you and how can becoming an Analytics Samurai secure your livelihood???

We know that being an Analytics Ninja! is all the rage, but I challenge you to be an Analytics Sumurai!*

You will see what I mean and you will want to join this elite group. I will also ask you to challenge me to make this post work for you.

What is at the heart of good Web Analytics?

  1. Conversion Rate?
  2. Good Reports?
  3. Segmentation?
  4. Good Questions?
  5. Actionable Insight?
  6. A Direct Connection to the Bottom Line?
  7. Recommendations?
  8. Average Time on Site?
  9. Context?

The Bottom Line … Your Bottom Line

Good analysis begins and ends with a focus on the Bottom Line. Your Bottom Line. By that I mean the bottom line that you are responsible for. If your function is to ensure a site is engaging its visitors and Average Time on Site (ATOS) is a measure of that engagement, then that’s a component of your bottom line.

So begin your Analysis by identifying your Bottom Line.

One word of caution, though! Apart from your own Bottom Line, all involved are responsible for the site’s ultimate BL because that is what funds your paycheck.

Look at visits from Keywords that signal conversion. Compare their conversion rates to their engagement metrics. If conversion is decreasing while engagement increasing, you may need to tone down your beguiling engagement techniques and let people buy your stuff.

What is your Bottom Line? Bringing traffic to the site, getting visitors beyond the landing page, getting them to register or add to cart?

“But I’m a one-person-show! I don’t have just one Bottom Line!” you say. Yes, but not all at the same time.


If you are being made to wear all hats at once … you’re being run around by monkeys.

“But I’m the Lone Analyst with may different people asking for all sorts of reports!”. Yes, but each is your client with their own bottom line. And if you have to take requests for yet more reports, make your job more valuable and fun! Help them ask …

Good Questions?

Would you go on a treasure hunt without knowing what to look for? ridiculous, right?
If you are not running reports to look for answers to good questions, close your Analytics tool and save yourself time, frustration and glazing over. Come back with good questions and with purpose to look for good answers It’s a lot easier, more valuable and more fun.

That is what the Analytics Sumurai does. You’ll see what I mean.

People are not glazing over because they are bombarded with numbers or don’t understand reports. It’s because they don’t know what they are looking for. Equally but not as obviously ridiculous.

Good questions are those you must ask to figure out how successful you have been in your responsibility for the site.

If we or your clients are not asking good questions, how can you deliver “good reports”. “Good reports” report good answers to good questions. Give your clients the opportunity to step into the trap of complaining about your reports

Good Answers require Good Questions. What are your top Bottom Line questions?

Picaso said that “computers are stupid – they only give you answers”, so we can see which is the difficult part!


The US just went through some serious snow storms. The average applies as much to New York as to Arizona! ridiculous? Obviously.

What’s our site’s Bounce Rate? What’s our site’s Conversion Rate? Equally, but not as obviously, ridiculous.

You efforts to bring your site’s Bounce Rate down have paid off. Then it goes through the roof again. What’s happened? It’s February 2011. You sell Middle Eastern products. Your visits increased as did the irrelevance of your content to many visitors.

You segment by Medium of Traffic Sources. Only Visits and Bounce Rates for Organic traffic have been affected. Now those are metrics that matter. You drill into various aspects of Organic Traffic and see that visits have shot up for keywords relating to Egypt!

Segmentation applies both by attribute, such as traffic sources or keywords and by stages in your sales process. Which brings me to your site’s Conversion Rate.


Context is created by comparison and comparison by segmenting your data.

Conversion Rate?

Which Conversion Rate? There is no such thing as “your site’s Conversion Rate”. Every site has hundreds of conversion rates. A rate of conversions from ad impression to Click-thru, Landing Page to 2nd page, Landing to Product Page, Landing to Add-to-Cart, Add-to-Cart to conversion or your Funnel Conversion Rate?

And each of these apply for each segment that is important to your Bottom Line.
Segment the sequence of events into logical steps relevant to *your* Bottom Line.

Actionable Insight?

Beware of Web Analysts! We find data interesting. But nobody pays us to be interested – that’s just a non-taxable perk. Insight is interesting. Actionable Insight that leads to Action with positive effects on your Bottom Line, funds next month’s paycheck. Keep doing that for paycheck security.

For the most part that’s true but just sometimes, Actionable Insight alone is not enough.


Are you getting or giving good data? Full of Actionable Insights? To people who are glazing over, even though they’re very smart?

Good Reports are not only pretty and easy to read, but take into account that Recommendations are analytical and Data is psychological.

A Good Report is one which starts out with a Summary and Recommendations based on supporting Actionable Insights extracted through sound analysis. So Recommendations are analytical.

Data, however, is only there to give confidence that you did not simply flip a coin, or worse, think that you have keener insight than the recipients who are, as we said, very smart.

*Analytics Sumurai vs. Analytics Ninja!

So why a Samurai for Analytics? My sources confirm that a samurai may not return his sword to its scabbard without drawing blood – their own would do!. I suspect they would not withdraw their swords as flippantly as would a Ninja! We would do well to never draw our reports unless we were ready to draw insights – our own would do!

My Analytics Sumurai hereby issues a direct challenge to Mr. Avinash Kaushik’s Analytics Ninja! Which Analytics Super Hero will deliver more Analytics value to your business? I predict that Avinash will side-step the challenge!

Put this Post to Work for You

Don’t your just hate it when analytics bloggers go on telling you what you should be doing, like it’s so easy. Giving you unsolicited advice which if you could implement, you’d write the post yourself?

Describe your area of responsibility, your Bottom Line, in a comment, and challenge me to apply my own advice. Please email a link to your site – the last thing you need is more generic advice. Requests for anonymity will be completely respected.