Good reporters listen to their readers. Good web analytics professionals listen to their audience. After you send out your web analytics report, you should work hard to get feedback.
The Feedback Loop
In Part I of this series, we talked about how important it is to know your audience, and form an idea about what kind of data they want to see in a web analytics report. While this is a good starting point, the problem you may have discovered is that much of your audience will tell you is rather vague, like "show me what is driving engagement on our site".
Now that your audience has a report from you in hand, they will be able to give you much better feedback. For example, you may have provided a breakdown of engaged visits by referral source. After seeing this, your audience may tell you that what they really need to know is what content is most engaging to visitors from different sources. So, in the next iteration of your report, you'll want to include a chart that breaks out the most visited pages by referral source.
Think of this as a feedback loop. Each time you send out a report, you have an opportunity to improve on it based on feedback from your audience. It is a collaborative development effort. If you have ever done software development, you know that you never get it right the first time. Only after many iterations incorporating feedback from users, does the software product begin to take shape and become truly useful. The same principle applies to web analytics reporting.
The Passive Audience Problem
What if your audience doesn't want to provide feedback? Often times, the people you work with are just really busy and its hard for them to sit down and think about what they need in a web analytics report. You are going to need to work at it. Try to get some one-on-one time on the calendar with they key people who receive your report. If that doesn't work, try just walking over to their desk with a copy of the report and asking a few questions. Be persistent.
You don't want to find yourself in a situation where the first feedback you get is at the big meeting. People may be looking at your report for the first time and start finding fault with it. The criticism can snowball and is unlikely to be constructive. Protect yourself from that scenario by getting feedback from individuals before important meetings. Get through a few iterations of the report before you find yourself on the spot to defend it.
This is the last post in a three part series. Hopefully, it has provided you with a framework for going about the task of creating useful web analytics reports. It starts and ends with the audience and your report is always a work in progress. If you have questions or comments, please leave them here, or head over to our forums.