Search Engine Strategies is one of those industry events that draws a diverse crowd, representing a variety of verticals and job titles. Some concepts apply directly to niche marketers while others offer tremendous value across the entire industry. Web analytics are one such concept that provide awesome insight no matter your KPI, product, target audience or marketing technique. Community managers and social media directors covet concrete numbers they can show the C-suite to help them sleep at night.
Next week at #SESSF, aimClear’s Marty Weintraub will speak alongside Tami Dalley, Director, User Experience Optimization, ROI Labs and Matthew Bailey, SES Advisory Board & President, Site Logic Marketing on Tuesday afternoon’s Deep Dive Into Analytics: When Bounce Rate No Longer Floats Your Boat session. We had the pleasure of sharing a candid interview with Tami prior to the event to get her insight on… er… insights . Here’s what she had to say.
| aimClear: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Tami! What are the top three most common barriers to shepherding companies into an environment of analytics accountability?
Tami Dalley:  Marketers have had it too easy for too long; “we think it worked” should no longer be an acceptable measure of marketing success. But why give up that cushy marketing positioning for cold hard facts that you have to tie your bonus to? (Trust me, these marketers still exist).  Not having systems set up accurately so that marketers can really trust the information.  Not having the skills to extract the information and translate it into real actions – basically the “so what” part of data analysis. Web analytics isn’t just about measurement; it’s about using the resulting insights to inform strategy.
| aimClear: Any tips for achieving management and rank & file buy-in? Put another way, what are the barriers for whomever wants to implement analytics and get management (and everyone else in the company) on board?
TD:  Get an executive sponsor. Bribe them.  Bring the data to the people. Give them a taste of the types of information and insights available and show them how it’s helped other organizations drive incremental revenue.  (Side note for after you have buy-in.) You need to manage expectations and communicate that analytics is not a “set it and forget it” investment; it requires ongoing governance and diligent IT people to protect that investment. It’s like my vegetable patch – I was all excited to get it set up and planted, but then I had fight off the bugs and water it and tend it…blah, blah, blah…safe to say I still buy my vegetables from the grocery store!
| aimClear: How do social media applications, as opposed to web page referrals, muddy the analytics water?
TD: Well the whole tracking thing for social media apps really goes out the window, which can be challenging but at the moment that falls into the “tough luck” category. Not to say this won’t eventually change though! One thing you can look at is tying spikes in direct traffic to associated spikes in traffic from social sites. So if you saw a 15% spike in direct traffic and a corresponding spike in referrals from twitter.com, then the correlation between the 2 indicates that social apps may be contributing to the direct traffic spike. Not exact, but close(ish).
| aimClear: Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to your current position.
TD: My background is in psychology. Turns out I didn’t like crazy people, but I had stats to fall back on. I got hooked on the voyeuristic aspect of web analytics – it’s like psychology without the crazy guy throwing a chair at you. I moved to Acronym Media in 2006 to help lead its analytics division and now work for ROI Labs as Director of User Experience.
| aimClear: A lot has changed about analytics in the last three years. What are some of the timeless values that never change?
TD: You have to remember that, ultimately, it’s real people buying stuff from your site. I don’t care how cool you think that new widget is; unless it helps me achieve my goal when I arrive at your site, you’ve failed…even if your site is really pretty. Don’t use statistics like a drunken man uses lampposts – for support, rather than illumination (courtesy of Mark Twain). It can hurt, but don’t be afraid to use web analytics as a mirror for revealing what needs to improve. Use analytics to make your campaigns and your site as good as they can be. Have a kick-ass implementation. I’m serious about this! The amount of million-dollar implementations I see that are truly, truly terrible blows my mind. Why pay all that money for a tool if you’re only going to use it for counting visits?
| aimClear: What’s your favorite animal, beer and vacation spot?
TD: Firefly – coolest animal on the planet. Also a very tasty tea-infused vodka, but that’s for another time (like right after this interview…). Wine all the way – Californian Chardonnay please, waiter! Although, there is a half-gallon beer in Australia called the Darwin Stubby that requires it own beer drinking strategy. And as for favorite vacation spot, I’ve been to about 40 countries so it’s hard to narrow it down. I’d say it’s a toss-up between Big Sky, Montana; Tobacco Caye, Belize; and Harlong Bay, Vietnam.
Big thanks to Tami for the interview. If you’ll be at SES San Fran next week, be sure to check out the Deep Dive Into Analytics session at 3 pm on Day 1.