Remember the original “Set-It-And-Forget-It” rotisserie oven advertised on television? You know, the one promoted by Ron Popeil as the “delicious alternative for those people with limited counter space, or simply on a budget.” In the 30 minute infomercial, the tag line “Set-It-And-Forget-It” gets repeated over and over again. It becomes a mantra that’s been ingrained into our subconscious.
“Set-It-And-Forget-It” Web Metrics
Unfortunately, many online businesses take a “set-it and forget-it” approach when it comes to their web metrics tracking. We’re talking about the web tracking that is used to provide valuable, executive level web metrics reporting for important online performance indicators like how many people are reaching your web site, what online campaigns they responded to, what are they buying, what web pages are they looking at, etc..
The downside to taking a “set-it and forget-it” approach in the web metrics world is that the required tracking codes tend to break or become outdated without anyone even being aware of it. Many times there are no warning errors or similar that that would alert someone of a web tracking issue. The result is inaccurate web data that a costly business decision could be based upon.
How Often Does This Really Happen?
We’ve seen this happen on most (80% or more) of the online initiatives that we get involved with. It’s happening in companies of all sizes and shapes, from the Fortune 50, to the mom and pop retailers.
Why Does This Happen?
Often it’s the result of a change in the underlying web tracking code, or some sort of change made by the web hosting company. For example, a web developer making an update to a web page that either breaks the tracking code, or a change to the logic flow that ends up by-passing the tracking tag. In either case, it’s very easy to end up with broken tracking tags that result in inaccurate web metrics data.
We recently did a web tracking audit for a client who was using Google Analytics as their web tracking solution. The client was dismayed that their online sales were not higher than they were after spending money on a variety of campaigns. A quick audit completed by us showed that the web hosting provider had not updated their tracking tag in over two years. Basically they had “set-it and forgot-it”, but were still collecting hundreds of dollars in site management fees per month.
Our audit showed that the online sales being reported by Google Analytics were 10% of what they actually were, and that the tracking code for this client had been out-of-date for almost 18 months. Again, the reporting had been inaccurate for almost 18 months, and no one knew. No wonder they thought their online sales were on the low side.
If you use a web metrics tracking tool to provide executive level reporting to the decision makers, make sure that your web metrics tracking is accurate. We recommend a monthly audit that compares the actual vs. the web reporting. If you don’t know how to do a monthly audit, make sure that you have someone in place that can tell you how this is done.
If you don’t do this, your executive team may be making costly business decisions, which may reduce revenues. The bottom line is that you need to ensure that your web metrics are accurate so that your executive team can make effective business decisions in regard to your online efforts.