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10 Commandments of Digital Analytics

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As many industry observers are well aware, the Web Analytics Association, to which many of us are members, changed their name to keep up with the times. The newly named Digital Analytics Association ushers in a time to revitalize and refresh the values of the industry, so I could think of no better way to welcome this change than to redefine our industry’s commandments.

0001 Thou Shalt Measure All it is You Do.

If you can’t measure it, don’t waste time or money doing it. Recognize that all business activities cost money, whether that involves running paid search advertising, communicating via social media channels, and even search engine optimization (SEO).

0010 Thou Shalt Set Business Goals.

It isn’t the responsibility of the digital analyst to come up with KPIs anymore; it’s their job to answer business questions. Bring your burning business problems rather than data requests and get ready for meaningful insights rather than tired trend analysis.

0011 Thou Shalt Not Misuse thy Neighbor’s Personal Information.

Visitors to your website have names, families, and rights, so treat them as neighbors and not numbers. Do your best to avoid collecting sensitive personally identifiable information, whenever possible.

0100 Remember thy Metrics & KPIs, Keep Them Clear and Concise.

Digital analytics marks a departure from “web” in favor of “integrated”. Be prepared to collaborate with database administrators and analysts to define complex compound business metrics.

0101 Honour thy Online and Offline Data Equally.

Good, better, and best is a thing of the past. Big data is all about cross-channel segmentation and modeling. Certain types of data lend themselves to certain types of analysis or action planning, but no one source is the best. Break down the walls and build bridges between silos for truly remarkable achievements.

0110 Thou Shalt Not Overwhelm thy Stakeholders With Meaningless Data.

With so many tools that can retrieve and display data, it’s easy to get carried away. Spending time on reporting meaningless data is a waste of an analyst’s and stakeholder’s time.

0111 Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery With Non-correlated Data.

Comingling two distinct data sets that are not, in any way, shape or form related only adds confusion and misleading insight. Don’t be afraid to use secondary data sources to dive deeper or test a hypothesis, but ensure your documentation includes assumptions, limitations and confidence levels.

1000 Thou Shalt Not Steal Data.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Digital analytics is the intellectual property of the business and should not be regarded as sole property of the analyst or organization that collects or reports on this data.

1001 Thou Shalt Not Falsify thy Data.

Breaking commandment 0111 wouldn’t be considered a deadly sin, but this one surely is. There is no room in digital analytics for “cooking the numbers”. Big data affords us the ability to endlessly segment and analyze data until we find appropriate proxies for data that can’t be directly collected. Put away the Excel “=rand()” function. Don’t make up numbers.

1010 Thou Shalt Not Covet thy Neighbor’s Tools.

Unfortunately, there is a growing need for businesses to leverage digital analytics tools to fit in. Even the most basic analytics tools will provide plenty of actionable insights. In addition, digital analysts should now be prepared to defend the requisition and use of new tools with value propositions for their business stakeholders. If the tools you are using can’t pay for themselves, you aren't using them correctly.

Got any other commandments that didn’t make my list? Feel free to share them below.


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