Hey! Welcome to episode 23 of Conversations with a Digital Strategist. On this week’s episode I’m going to talk about the controversial topic of why your marketing vendor should not be tasked with running and analyzing your website analytics. Needless to say, most marketers do not agree with me on this subject and I can completely understand why. However, it is important that I provide you with the most honest facts possible, to help you make the best decision on who should be running and analyzing your web data. Let’s talk about it.
Cool Tool of the Week
Do you have a WordPress site? More than likely, your answer is yes! Did you know more than 25% of websites on the Internet today WordPress websites? That’s a lot! The reason so many people use WordPress is mainly because of its ease of use, scaleability and extendability. It’s also super simple to manage, especially if you use ManageWP. ManageWP is a freemium tool allowing you to manage multiple WordPress websites from one dashboard.
ManageWP offers several extremely useful features such as site optimization, up-time monitor, SEO management, comment moderation, website backups and so much more! Use of the basic features is free for everyone, and additional features are available for very small amounts, like $1 each! I mean, we’re talking small investments, large returns. In addition, it’s so simple to use. If you’re looking for an easy way to manage the technical parts of your website, check out ManageWP. You can find more information at ManageWP.com. And if you didn’t know, now you know.
A Little Back Story
Recently, I spoke at a conference for small food entrepreneurs. One of the attendees asked a question about whether she should have unfettered access to her analytics account, which was being managed by an external company. After further discussion, it was uncovered that her marketing vendor was managing her analytics account. The conference attendee was very confused about what she could ask for and what she couldn’t. This conversation, highlighted a concern I’ve had about this topic for a while. So, today, we’re going to talk about allowing marketers to manage your analytics.
I’m going to start with my controversial statement and then breakdown my “why”. Marketers should not run, manage, or analyze website analytics. If you contract with a marketing vendor, you should also contract with an external web analytics firm. Let me state that I do not believe marketers are out here with nefarious motives, hoping to scam clients. However, I do believe that it is very easy to fall into the trap of only showing metrics that prove the marketer has succeeded with their campaigns. Let me break it down further.
The Conflict of Interest
There is an obvious conflict of interest here. In the early days, it was hard to find an analytics firm to run and analyze your data. Often times, the only one available to do this task, was the marketer themselves. As the analytics field continues to grow, more and more firms are available to complete these tasks. But it is still common practice, probably out of habit, for marketers to be a one-stop shop.
Being a one-stop shop, is easier for clients to wrap their heads around. You’re probably thinking, why would I contract with two separate firms, when I could get all of the tasks completed through one firm. Again, I point to that conflict of interest. Your marketing firm is launching and managing campaigns for you. They are evaluated on how well the campaigns do. If a campaign or set of campaigns don’t do well on a regular basis, you have every right to terminate the contract.
I am not, in any way insinuating that marketers are going to fudge numbers. However, some tactics could include highlighting metrics that were positively effected by the campaign, that were not your target metrics. For example, you run campaigns to increase revenue. Your marketing firm, runs a series of campaigns and comes back to you to show you how many new visitors and new subscribers the campaign generated for you. That’s great, but not what you were going for. You see what they did there? They decided to change your objective, mid-campaign. This highlights the successful results of the campaign, without focusing on the fact that they still missed the mark.
I can’t say, no, I won’t say this is common practice. But, I will say that it does happen. The best way to insure this doesn’t occur and your marketing vendor isn’t even tempted to do such a thing, is to separate the tasks. This separation of tasks is common in website and mobile app development. A developer does not test the software they created. A separate person will often conduct the quality assurance testing. This ensures the highest quality testing is conducted.
Contract Metrics Analysts
To resolve this conflict of interest, some marketers will sub-contract with external metrics firms. In this case, there is distance between the marketing firm and the metrics. But you still have to be careful that the metrics firm is working for your best interest and not that of the marketing company.
On the flip side, the best route to take is to contract with a metrics firm yourself. This ensure the metrics are truthful and focus on the objectives you’ve set forth. Now, to be honest, often times, marketers will pull data from inside Facebook, Twitter and so on. The analytics in these tools don’t always match exactly to those in Google Analytics, but they should still be close. Google Adwords on the other hand, should match Google Analytics exactly, as long as both have been setup correctly.
But, let’s say you love your marketing company and they have yet to steer you wrong. Well, that’s great! But there are two things I want you to do.
Your Data Belongs to You
First, I want you to know your data belongs to you. The conference attendee I was speaking with, told me her marketing vendor would not give her access to the data. They would not allow her to log into the account to view all of the data. They would only give her monthly or ad hoc reports. This is unacceptable. The data belongs to you. It’s all your data, because it’s your website, your visitors, your customers, your content, your products. A marketing vendor restricting your access to your data, is a huge red flag. Do not accept this. If you do not currently have access to your data, pick up the phone right now and make the request. Let your marketer know, it is your data and you should have unrestricted access to it. If they still decline your request, find a new vendor.
Use Your Own Account
The second thing I want you to do is use your own account. Some marketing firms will set your Google Analytics account up under their own account. Some will say this is done because it is easier to view all of their client accounts at one time. This is untrue. You can setup your own Google Analytics account and give your marketing company restricted or unrestricted access to your data. This allows you to maintain access to your data, while allowing your marketing firm access as well.
Also, both of these “to do’s” should go for any analytics firm you contract with, too. Even analytics firms don’t own your data and shouldn’t use their own accounts. You want to maintain full control of your data and account. This gives you the power.
This was a short episode this week. Originally, I was going to create this as a blog post, but I wanted the topic to reach more people. The conference attendee I spoke with was incensed after our conversation and she had every right to be. You must assume the professionals you hire will lead you in the right direction. There is nothing more infuriating than working with a company that is not meeting your needs. Hopefully, the information discussed during this podcast episode can help you better understand your rights.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Conversations with a Digital Strategist. If you have questions about anything I covered, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like more information about me, visit my website at Level360.co. I’m also social, you know. Follow me on Twitter at Level_360. Or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Level360LLC. Until next time, live true, work smart, and in the words of one of the greatest strategists to ever live, think different! Bye!
Intro and outro music by: DJ Quads
DJ Quads Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/aka-dj-quads
DJ Quads YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCusFqutyfTWRqGhC8kHA5uw