Jodi McDermott Writes About Marketing And IT

October 24, 2006

After speaking about marketing and IT at the eMetrics Summit, I blogged about it here and commented that one woman in the audience had a great answer: make IT into your customer. I hit a streak of luck – Jodi McDermott, the woman I was referring to, read my blog and sent me email. (And of course, I hit her up for that guest blog post that I wanted from her, since she clearly has this so figured out, better than lots of other companies.) Here is her guest post – enjoy!

How do you get your IT department on board with web analytics – turn them into one of your customers!

I thoroughly enjoyed Robbin Steif’s presentation at E-Metrics last week in which she spoke about the ongoing tension between Marketers and IT staff. In a quick show of hands around the room she asked everyone to express their opinions of the battles between the departments and how each person deals with it on a daily basis. Much to my surprise, I learned that my company is quite progressive in working through the trials of this relationship (and no, it has not always been this way). Instead of battling on the support needed to maintain a web analytics solution in-house, our team has turned IT into a customer by providing them with the same level of analytics as the Marketing team.

So how does one get the attention of the IT department? Get to the heart of the metrics and analyis that they desire, but can’t obtain from their other monitoring tools. Segment, slice and dice based on the dimensions of data that they might care about – a healthy dialogue around HTTP status code and IP will get you much farther with them than discussing Campaign codes will.

Just last week I received an urgent set of emails from IT in which they were trying feverishly to determine why bandwidth had spiked on the site over the last 60 minutes. Through our web analytics tool (we use Visual Sciences) I was able to quickly segment the data to determine that the spike in traffic was coming from one of our new affiliate partners. They had dropped an email newsletter mid-day and the opens were driving so much traffic to the site that it triggered several alerts in IT. The question in their minds was – web site attack or valid customer traffic??? In minutes my team was able to verify that indeed it was valid customer traffic and what remained was a conversation with our affiliate partner to better coordinate their marketing activity with us.

Other examples of IT requests have included the analysis of filtered traffic versus unfiltered traffic. Our tool gives us the capability to quickly change the configuration and reprocess the dataset in order to determine the percentage of traffic from visitors who do not accept cookies and robots. We also recently participated in providing metrics for a portion of our traffic that we may send to a third-party caching network. Through the use of web analytics we were able to help our IT department forecast the volume of traffic that would be sent to the network and thereby negotiate the most cost effective contract for our company.

The IT department has to be prepared for both sides of the coin though. A few weeks ago we discovered that a page tag was missing from one of our important points in the order process flow. We were able to determine down to the hour as to when the tag disappeared. Based on their change control process they could tie the issue back to the team who had pushed out the new code (sans tag). Delivering the “gap analysis” back to IT needs to be done in a delicate manner. The granularity of the reporting that you can provide can both answer their questions and point out their weaknesses.

The relationship has not always been this smooth for our company, but showing value to the business through web analytics has put our team (and tool) at the top of the radar for our executives. This in turn is increasing the awareness of the IT staff as they learn what other nuggets of information can be gleaned from the data (and oh-how-quickly). If you can evangelize the value to the top levels of the organization – including the office of the CIO/CTO, the probability of having an amicable relationship with IT and gaining their support is most certainly an achievable goal.

Jodi McDermott
Director of Web Analytics