Oct 31, 2011

A Detailed guide to Web Analytics Business Process

In this post, I will be covering the steps involved in Web Analytics process. The sales guys or those who respond to the Web Analytics RFP’s will find this post very useful.

The Web Analytics process can be categorized into 5 parts:

·         Define
·         Design
·         Deploy
·         Audit
·         Reporting

The first Phase is DEFINE

Under Define Phase we will have,

·         Requirements gathering sessions and workshops

·         Defining business requirements

·         Defining the roles and responsibilities

·         Preparing solution design document

Requirements gathering sessions and workshops

This is the initial step in the Web Analytics process. In this step, analyst collects the requirements from stakeholders or different business heads.

Defining business requirements

This process involved documenting the requirements gathered in the Requirements Specification Document. The document’s purpose is to list the client’s specific business requirements used to develop web analytics tool (WebTrends / Omniture / Google Analytics etc…) code deployment. All the business Key Performance Indicators and Goals/Objectives of the Websites will be defined in this phase.

The deliverable is the Requirements Specifications Document.

Defining the roles and responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders/analysts working on the project are defined in this stage. This defines the project team structure and their deliverables.

A sample roles and responsibilities template is given below:

Stakeholder/Business Head
The person responsible for......
  • ………
The person responsible for.....
  • ………

Preparing solution design document

A Solution Design Document is a main document of the web analytics implementation. The design phase begins with preparing solution design or reference document.

An ideal solution design document should contain the parameters written below:
·         Parameter Name
·         Variable Name
·         Purpose of the parameter
·         Sample Code   
·         The pages list where the variable is to be set
·         Dependencies if any
·         When to trigger the variable
The deliverable is the Solution Design Document.

The second Phase is DESIGN

Designing the tags for data collection

Using the page tagging of Web Analytics tool, the visitor browsing and activity data on our website is collected. The javascript tags are defined for all the parameters listed in the solution design document.

The third Phase is DEPLOY

Implementing the tags for data collection

The Web Analytics tools use a special JavaScript tag that we place on our web pages to collect visitor activity data. When a visitor browses our website page, this JavaScript tag initiates interactions between the visitor’s browser and Web Analytics tool. The tag collects data about the visitor’s browsing behavior and sends this information to the web analytics tool.

The designed JavaScript tag will be inserted on each page of the website. Once the tags are deployed on the website, we can begin viewing reports of our visitor browsing activity on our website. Reports are generally available 24 hours after the tags are deployed.

Preparing validation checklist

The validation checklist document has the current list of tags, the potential issues and their resolution methodology in place. This is done to ensure that the analyst is reporting on the correct data to stakeholders or business heads.

The validation of Web Analytics tool installation can be done by:

  • Checking the tags accuracy: We can check the tags accuracy by using debugging tools. There are many free web analytics debugging tools available like Firebug etc… In the future, I will write a separate post on this.
  • By reports/dashboards: We can review our reports and dashboards which can tell us whether our tags are correct or not. But better to follow the first method so that to have accuracy in place before the reporting starts.

Updating the solution design reference with validation notes

Once the validation checklist is complete, the solution design document is updated with notes from the validation document.

The fourth Phase is AUDIT

Auditing the tags

Once the site goes live, the auditing is done for next 2-3 weeks. At the end of every week, data is collected and audit is done. This process evaluates the website for proper implementation of tags. It identifies missing tags, duplicate tags and incorrect tags.

Implementation of the changes as per the audit report

The tags are corrected as per the changes suggested by the audit report, if any.

The fifth and last Phase is REPORTING

Administrator rights and users login credentials will be created

This process involved creating multiple user login credentials with differing rights and access privileges.
User Roles
  • Administrator: Has the full access to Web Analytics tool. He/She can create, edit, and delete profiles or reporting suites/reports/dashboards, can add/delete/change access to users, update account information
  • Report Manager: Can create, edit, and delete the dashboards and reports
  • Report User: Can only view the dashboards and reports

Scheduling of the automated reports/dashboards as per the requirement

After all the auditing, the reporting will start. The first step in the reporting will be to schedule automated dashboards and reports as per the business requirements and KPI’s defined. The automated reports/dashboards will be scheduled to different business units on the desired frequency (daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly/quarterly).
The scheduling of the automated reports/dashboards will be done through the Web Analytics tool as per the format/KPI specified by client.

Producing ad-hocs reports / analysis as per the requests from client side

In this phase, the ad-hocs will be done. The format of ad-hoc reports will be specified by the client. Analyst will estimate the time required to complete it and communicate the same to the client. The Ad-hoc report will provide the data required with insights and actionable recommendations.

Audits to continue in order to ensure accurate web data capture by the web analytics tool

To ensure accurate data capture and proper reporting by the web analytics tool, the analyst will continue doing the audits on may be quarterly basis.

Is this the same Web Analytics process you follow? Do I am missing something?

Please share your thoughts via comments….


  1. Replies
    1. MWailes,

      You can contact me through my linkedin profile.

  2. This is the antecedent footfall in the Web Analytics process. In this step, analyst collects the requirements from stakeholders or altered business heads.

    Ottawa web designs

  3. The process you've identified is good and certainly the standard for quality Web Analytics implementations.

    I'd make a couple of additions:

    At the beginning, I (and the company I work for) have found web analytics training helpful. Training sets out basic definitions, ex. "What is a unique visitor?" and introduces end users to the main concepts of web analytics ("What is web analytics?").

    Training becomes the entree into defining the business requirements and setting roles & responsibilities. It's a bit like selling a car to a new driver: it doesn't make sense to have a discussion about the V6 or V8 with or without the turbocharger on automatic or manual transmission until you take them for a test drive and show them what a well-tuned car can do (what's possible).

    Starting with training not only ensures you're both speaking the same language, it helps keep the business requirements focused on outcomes rather than specific implementation details: "We need a car that has quick acceleration and can handle tight curves," instead of "We need a car with sport-tuned suspension and a 5-liter engine."

    On the back end, I'd pick up with training again: walk the end users through their shiny new reports and show them what their data means and what they can do it (optimization). This ensures that end users already have some familiarity with the reports and that the data will actually be used to make business and product decisions (rather than collecting dust on the shelf since no one really knows where to begin).

    The biggest risks to any web analytics project, in my experience, are ill-defined requirements and a lack of end-user adoption. Extending the process you've defined out a bit to include training addresses both of those risks.

  4. @Keith, awesome !!! I will edit the post and will add your suggestion.

  5. I agree with how you have defined the implementation of web analytics.
    Just to add to this I believe today online marketers and web analytics consultants
    have to be a part of any product or service conception. You can clearly experience this when you have access to such granular demographic and behavioural data, which was not available say a decade ago.

    Online marketing and web analytics provide so much business insights and help concieve and produce quality products and services.

    So I think web analytics is an essential part of any strategical decisions takes by a business.

    1. @Lena,

      Yes, web analytics is INDEED an essential part of any strategical decisions takes by a business.

  6. This is the first time I've been to your site. Thanks for explaining more details.
    Here is my website :: Search Engine SEO


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