A Web Analytics Framework

I recently completed the Web Analytics Master Certification by Market Motive. Learned a ton with John Marshall (founder of Clicktracks) and Avinash as my instructors.

In order to showcase our learning, as a final project each student was required to develop two “web analytics reports” from scratch. The reports were to be created as if I was delivering them to a CEO or CMO on a monthly basis.  The reports were to include a “dashboard,” with KPIs, Segments, and what has changed from the previous month to the current month and of course, my recommendations for improvement.

(Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the Web Analytics Framework & Dashboard)

In the process of sorting out what was important to include in my reports, I thought back to the first module of our web analytics course, where we discussed the importance of “clearly defining your website’s objectives.”

We talked about how with any analytics tool there is a plethora of data to choose from, graphs and charts that can be created, but Avinash and Jon drilled into our heads that in order to be successful, you need to be very clear on those objectives before you even crack open your web analytics tool of choice.  Additionally, in one of Avinash’s posts, he talks about how important it is to define and focus on the “Critical Few” metrics that really drive your business.

With that in mind I set out to create a structure for my reports would give a quick holistic view of our top level business objectives, what activities we are doing to meet those objectives, and how well we are doing against them.  The underlying idea is that any before I pull any data from my analytics tool,  I should understand/define how it aligns with the top level objectives of my website.  I bounced around several ideas late one night with Avinash via email about Objectives, Goals, KPIs and Targets, and what resulted was the creation of a model I called a “Bike Company X Web Analytics Framework”  for my report.  The Framework captured these top level goals for the site and tied them into specific KPIs and threshold levels for the KPIs – with the idea that a HiPPO (as Avinash likes to call Sr. Mgmt) would be able to quickly understand exactly what data I’m pulling from my analytics tool and why  ( b/c they are tied to top level objectives).

I was surprised (in a positive way) last Sunday night when Avinash emailed me and asked if he could post a screen shot of the framework in his upcoming blog post as a best practice example of  how to approach web analytics by putting a structure around one’s work. It was a definite honor to get a “mention” from Avinash on his blog.  Very exciting.

So for example for the bike parts company I did one of my projects on,  I started the report like this:

First Things First

The purpose of this report is to provide actionable insights for the “Bike Company X”  e-commerce website each month.   We utilize the following framework to understand our objectives and measure against those objectives:

  1. Business Objectives: the foundation of our process is to define the overarching purpose for our website.   ( sell lots of motorcycle parts,  be better at marketing, build goodwill )
  2. Goals: with these objectives in mind, we can define some high level goals to help identify the specific activities we should spend our valuable time on.  (more sales, build a customer database for marketing, serve as a resource to the riding community).
  3. KPIs: our Key Performance Indicators are the metrics attached to our goals: (Monthly Revenue, # of new registrations per month, # of visits to our resource pages).
  4. KPI Target: our threshold for measuring success.  Did we meet or miss our target?
  5. Segments: we then drill down into the various visitor types to better understand what groups of visitors are responsible for helping us meet (or not meet) our targets.

Below is the Web Analytics Framework Screenshot (example from the bike parts website).

The Web Analytics Framework

Web Analytics Framework

For the same company, I also created a dashboard that pulled in most of the KPIs from the above framework.  I found that once I had the framework developed, it was fairly easy to decide what to include in my dashboard.  (this dashboard was inspired by a web analytics dashboard designed by Stratigent and available on the CD that comes with Avinash’s book Web Analytics 2.0)

web analytics dashboard with KPIs and Targets

What are your thoughts?  I’m firm believer in continuous improvement.  Would love to hear any ideas or suggestions to make this better.

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  1. Hi Matt,
    I love your approach and I use a similar one for positioning our virtual agents in front of the value they can bring ! I’m curious to see if you have already did the framework from the KPI. Meaning sometimes the client is not clear or doesn’t want to give their business objectives. It’s like building the framework from this other side

  2. Hi Laurent,
    Thanks for the feedback. If I remember correctly it was a bit of a mashup. I had a few of the KPIs in mind before I started, but also came up with a few new important ones based on the exercise.

    As to your point on clients not being clear — yes that is definitely a challenge. I think when dealing with clients, it is important to be like a skilled “investigator” AND “translator” — asking the right questions so as to elicit their goals/objectives in their own language.

  3. Hi Matt,

    I think this is really great! Well done.

    Nikki Rae

  4. Hi Matt,

    This is great work. I am from Northern Ireland and just getting into this type of work, and am keen to learn.

    I have been looking at the courses at marketmotive, however they are currently outside my price bracket. Do you recommend any good books etc that i could purchase to get myself started.

    Thanks and kind regards

  5. Mark,
    While I’m still new to this career path, it is been amazingly rewarding for me thus far. I finally feel like I have found my “home”.

    Avinash’s books are great, Eric Peterson’s Big Book of KPIs is now free online, and Jim Sterne has written a number of books that I’ve heard good things about.
    Since you are starting out, get access to as many Google Analytics accounts that you can get your hands on. I volunteered my services to help companies with their analytics to get experience and it really helped me (for example I got access to accounts that had over 5 Million visitors, that gave me the opportunity to more advanced segmentation and analysis.

    My biggest recommendation for those starting out is to not be afraid to “volunteer”. The short term “loss” for your time, will likely reap great rewards, as there are many web analytics jobs out there, but it would seem a lack of qualified professionals.

    Another opportunity is the Analysis Exchange http://www.analysisxchange.com/ where you can be paired up with an experienced mentor to work on a project for a non profit. I worked on a project when I was just getting started and learned a ton!

    You can also look on LinkedIn, there are several Web Analytics groups to join and learn from as well.

    Good luck!

  6. Thanks Matts. Downloaded those books and have set an email to the analysis exchange.

    Keep in touch and best regards

  7. Hi Matt,
    Very nice post. It helped me a lot getting KPI’s down to the bare essence.
    What do you think of this setup:

    You have a vision.
    To fulfill your vision you set goals.
    To reach your goals, you need do do stuff.

    1. Vision (KPI’s: Strategic)
    2. Goals (KPI’s: Tactical)
    3. Actions (KPI’s: Operational)

  8. great job matt.
    I learning the same and your approach has helped me a lot.
    Keep doing the great work.

  9. Thanks for the shout out Matt! For more examples of dashboards take a look at our Dashboard Development page http://www.stratigent.com/consulting-services/benchmarking/dashboard-development

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