3 Tips from Mike Holmes to Avoid Crumbling Analytics Foundations

Mike HolmesAfter admittedly watching far too many episodes of HGTV’s Holmes on Homes, Holmes Inspection, and Holmes Makes It Right, we can’t help but notice the parallels between home building and digital analytics projects.

And the direction that Mike Holmes provides about preventing your roof from caving in is just as relevant for your next analytics implementation.

Homeowners reach out to Mike for help when something is wrong: a leaking roof, a freezing cold bedroom, an uneven floor, and more often than not, a prior contractor or inspector who hasn’t done their job. Upon a more thorough audit, Mike usually uncovers deeper issues lurking behind the walls: inadequate insulation, dangerous electrical wiring, cut joists, unsupported floors, or a crumbling foundation.

Similarly, analytics consultants are frequently called in to help when a website “owner” has noticed something wrong in their analytics: missing events, internal referrals, duplicate pages, or perhaps an inability to analyze key outcomes and segments. Sometimes these issues are the result of a DIY-project gone wrong or a “contractor” who failed to finish the job.  Similar to Mike, all too often when we do a complete audit, we uncover larger issues: leaking private information, hard coded tag manager pixels, broken sessions, or improper tagging of pages and campaigns.

Just like Mike Holmes, we always aim to “make it right!”

In some cases, implementation problems are beyond repair.  In such cases, fixing the issues would be less effective and more costly than ripping everything out and starting fresh.

This is all done completely wrong!

This can be difficult to hear, especially if you have just invested significant time and money in a renovation project. It’s not the type of news that we like to deliver, but it does happen.

In order to avoid disaster in your next analytics project, here are 3 tips from Mike Holmes himself you can apply to your analytics projects also:

1. Do your research!
Pick up the phone, phone every one of them
When looking for an analytics partner to work with, have a look at their qualifications and don’t be afraid to contact them.

For example, if you are using Google Analytics, we recommend contacting a Google Analytics Certified Partner (full disclosure, ClickInsight is a GACP). GACPs are companies that are vetted and certified by Google and are required to meet rigorous qualification standards.

Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, do your research, and speak with a few different partners to find out more about their services, current clients, and processes.  And ask for references.

2. Specify your objectives upfront
Think 10 steps ahead
When starting out your project, keep your objectives front and centre and think 10 steps ahead. Consider the following?

  • Where do you want to be a year from now?
  • How can you detect success has occurred or not?
  • What questions will you have to answer about your users’ behaviour?
  • How will you need to segment and analyze your data so that you can recommend further changes to test or actions to take?

Considering questions such as and discussing them with your analytics partner will help ensure your analytics implementation supports your objectives, and will enable you to measure your success. We recommend working with your analytics partner to create a measurement plan to define and document your objectives, tactics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), segments, and targets.  This will ensure that you are fully aligned and not missing anything crucial to successfully achieving your optimization objectives.

3. Break the project into stages
Do this in 3 stages. Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3
Working on an analytics project can be a significant undertaking, especially if you are starting from the ground up. Don’t be afraid to break the project into stages.

  • Stage 1 of the project may include a measurement plan, audit and basic analytics and tag management configuration to ensure a strong foundation of data for reporting and opportunity analysis.
  • Moving into Stage 2, you may add more advanced segmentation, enhanced configuration, and automated reports and dashboards.
  • Stage 3 and beyond may then focus on conducting in-depth analysis, identifying insights and opportunities, and taking action to drive business value.

Of course, getting value from analytics is not a one-time process, but requires continuous iteration and improvement (Read our past post about Scaling the Analytics Value Pyramid).

We hope you have not been a victim of analytics implementation failure.  If you have, do you think the tips we’ve shared above would have helped?  Do you have any additional nuggets of wisdom to share with us?

Credits: GIFs adapted from Holmes on Holmes and Holmes Inspection as seen on HGTV.ca. “Make It Right” is a registered trademark of Restovate Ltd. d/b/a The Holmes Group.

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