The First Step: Non‑Actionable Analytics


March 5, 2010

“If you aren’t going to do anything about those numbers, don’t bother measuring.”   How many times have I heard that? Forget that, how many times have I said that?

Now, there is a great (great great) deal of truth to that saying. I always compare analytics to a bathroom scale. “Why would you weigh yourself every day if you have no plans to change your eating patterns based on the weight?”  In other words, If you aren’t going to do anything about those numbers ….

But I think we are foolish when we say that so loudly, so often and so authoritatively. Most of the world’s website owners have analytics because they want to know, “How are we doing?”  When the numbers are up, they feel great, and when the numbers are down, they feel not-so-great.  And, they don’t do much about it.

Is that really so bad? Certainly, those companies would be smarter to make decisions based on their analytics, but isn’t the first step just to know how you are doing? Maybe they need to look at their numbers for a year, and then see competitive numbers, before they are ready to even think about making a decision based on their analytics. In the meantime, they are absorbing their data and learning to think about the numbers. So for now, they have taken the first step.