What came first?
[This article is part of a series entitled: GA Implementation ABCs]

So far what I have discussed in this series has been fairly straight forward – dare I say “easy”! The next step is the difficult part – not from a technical perspective, but purely in terms of communication.

To recap the story so far, the first three best practice implementation principals are:

  1. Tag everything – get the most complete picture of your web site visitors as possible
  2. Clean your data – apply filters
  3. Define Goals – distill the 80+ reports of GA in to performance benchmarks

If you have followed these steps so far, then you have done an excellent job. However, the usual problem is that few other people in your organisation know this or even appreciate your work. You have created a set of nice charts and reports, “so what?” is a common response that is thought, if not stated.

The unfortunate truth is that you will have wasted your time unless you can get the buy-in use the visitor data in driving business decisions and be the focal point for instigating change on your web site. With your initial understanding of your web site visitor data, this is your next step – to map out the objectives and key results for your organisation’s web site. For this you need to bring in your key stakeholders from the other parts of the business. These can be marketing, sales, PR, operations, web development/design agencies, e-commerce managers, content creators – even the CEO.

Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) – 4 Steps

Step 1: Map your stakeholders
Map who your stakeholder departments are from the list above. Then select one person from each as the key contact for initial discussions. They may not be end up being the right person but that can be changed later. The important thing is to get people on board from those departments.

Your key contacts are your point of contact representing the interests of that department within your organisation. They can canvas opinion from the rest of the organisation on your behalf – in other words, they do not have to be the most senior person from that department. Note you should encourage this to be a two way street – you setting the scene with your initial data and thoughts on the current situation, with stakeholders providing their perspective on how it fits with their department. For example, they may provide information from CRM systems, call centre figures, web server performance etc.

Step 2: Brainstorm with your stakeholders
Arrange regularly meetings. The frequency will vary depending how significant your web site is to the overall business model of your organisation. However aim for weekly in the early days and adjust according to feedback.

Initial meetings should focus on what is currently happening – not whether it is good or bad, but rather what information is available. Often your stakeholders will ask for more information, possible less, but usually they want to see it cross referenced against other metrics – something to prepare for the next meeting.

As meetings progress, you and your stakeholders should start to understand each other – with respect to terminology, what data can be collected, what information can be gleaned from it and how it can be useful to the business (this process usually takes between 1-3 meetings).

Step 3: Define your OKRs
By week 4, it can be a good idea to split your meetings and discuss separately with each stakeholder. By now you should be ready to ask the question “what is the objective of our web site from your point of view“. Don’t worry if you need a few more weeks to achieve this. Every organisation is different, but try not to let this drag on beyond the 6 week mark for fear of loosing momentum. The process is not set in stone and can be reviewed in 6 months time or whenever necessary.

Encourage your stakeholders to give measurable answers to your “objectives” question – these form the results part of your OKRs. The following are measurable examples: generate more sales leads, download more spec-sheets, encourage more cross-selling (increase average order value), create greater brand/product awareness, acquire more traffic, provide customer service (reduce call centre volume), build relationships with visitors (blog comments, forum posts) – in fact anything that can be judged as a success for your web site.

Step 4: Distill and refine OKRs
With the long list of objectives and key results from your stakeholders (they are always long to start with), distill these down to the 10 most important. This should be your maximum – less than 10 being better for the simple reason that during this first phase of building your web analytics framework, managers generally cannot cope with a long list of “levers” to act on. Objectives can always change at a later date, so focusing on the most important 5-10 OKRs will stand you in good stead.

Summary
So your organisation has provided you with your list of OKRs – essentially that is the business language of your organisation with respect to the web site. Using these to build your Key Performance Indicators (web analyst language) is the subject of my next post. However if you have any comments so far, please add them to this post for discussion.