CEO Letter To Web Analytics — Response To Eric Peterson’s Memo

In response to the CEO’s letter to Web analytics, Eric Peterson penned a memo from Web analytics back to the CEO. Take a moment to read his letter, then come back here for my reply back:


To: CMO, CIO, SVP-Ecommerce
From: CEO
Subject: Memo from The Web Analytics Team to “beloved CEO”
Date: May 14, 2007

I don’t know which one of you the Web Analytics team reports to, but whoever it reports to, I want you to find out who wrote that memo — and fire him or her.

But seriously, thanks for commenting, Eric. We’ve never met, but your reputation precedes you, so I truly appreciate that you would even comment on my post. A couple of thoughts in reply to your memo:

1) “Please tell everyone that from this point on we in web analytics are only going to deliver reports that are going to be used.” Nobody — even the CEO — can dictate that “reports will be used”. The good marketing departments that I’ve seen (this is not just a WA issue), know that some reports will get more attention than others, and work to either minimize their efforts in producing those lesser-utilized reports or getting them killed in the first place.

2) “Keep in mind we are “web analytics” not “web reporting.” For many senior execs in many companies that distinction is purely semantics. Remember when the first batch of VPs of IT were renamed CIO? Having the C-level title on a Monday didn’t make them any more strategic than they were on the Friday before when they didn’t have a C-level title. Lots of departments and positions suffer the same problem. If WA (the web analytics team) wants to do more analysis, it has to figure out how to do that without thinking that it can toss the reporting requirement over the wall to someone else.

3) “Many of your senior lieutenants continue to treat their particular channel as if it were the only source of business”. Bingo — you nailed it. If only WA could find a way to communicate that message in a less-smarmy, more politically correct way than the sarcastic guy who wrote the memo in the previous comment, then WA could be seen as the true strategic resource I believe it could be.

4) “Did you get the memo we sent you about deploying technology that will let us run controlled experiments?” Uh, no. It must have been stuck into that book you sent me which is sitting under the pile of books sent by every other department in the company. Careful here, Eric — memos about “controlled experiments” shouldn’t go to the CEO. The bigger issue here, is “marketing’s civil war” — the fact that the CMO him/herself doesn’t even understand the need for the experiments, because they’re too caught up in their branding efforts. But don’t air marketing’s dirty laundry to the CEO. Ever.

5) “We need you to set the tone and create a mandate to use web analytics to drive our business success”. That isn’t going to happen. The onus is on WA to demonstrate how web analytics can be used to drive business success. I’ll admit that this isn’t going to be easy, but WA needs to pick its places and, probably even more importantly, picks its targets. By “targets” I mean the senior execs in the company who can be supporters and agents of change. It’s similar to the efforts that politicians undertakes. You build support with the right people at the grass-roots level first before going national.

Thanks again for commenting, Eric. Good luck with your consulting business.

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