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I was told the X Change conference was the best web analytics conference to attend out of all the web analytics events happening across Europe and while I’ve only attended day 1 so far it certainly hasn’t disappointed.

So what happened on day 1?

We were met with some lovely coffee and croissants before we were ushered to attend the welcome note, moderated by Gary Angel and on the panel Christian Sauer, John Woods, Simon Burton and Mathieu Llorens. All of the panelists were entrepreneurs who shared their own experience of starting up a business and the difficulties faced when the dot com bubble burst.

They spoke about how the market has evolved from just being a tool that spits out reports to one which requires human input but allows every action to now have a measureable consequence. Another topic discussed was customers and how it is important to say no to customers. One of the panelists specifically mentioned that as a start-up you will be asked to take on tasks a lot of the time that you wouldn’t ordinarily do but it’s important to analyse if this is a route you want to take and to learn to say no if its not something you feel confident in handling.

Keynote Speakers Picture from Nicolas Malo

Keynote Speakers Picture from Nicolas Malo

Welcome note panel: Image courtesy of @nicolasmalo

So the discussion moved on to asking who did the panel think was a good web analytics customer and they said:

  • Customers who were smart and don’t have to deal with political battles in their organisation.
  • Customers who know what they are doing, know where their business is going and have C-level insight.
  • Customers who are do-er’s that will use the insight provided.

Other tips from the panel included:

  • Companies using web analytics should focus on current customers before prospects.
  • Web analytics businesses should become customer led, not industry led.
  • If you are looking for funding raise money when you DON’T need it.
  • Key to a successful web analytics business is employees.

Instead of presentations being delivered, the X Change conference is structured around huddles- small groups of 10-15 people who sit around a table discussing a particular topic, much better than the regular conference set-up in my opinion!

Huddle 1 

The first huddle I sat in on was ‘Structures – Building them, changing them’ and was led by Michael Feiner.

Discussions focused around where the web analytics team is best sat/suited in an organisation.

There was a range of different departments web analytics practitioners had worked in- ranging from working out of a marketing department, the tech/web development department or within a product team. Someone said that while marketing departments are interested in web analytics it is the product managers that will benefit the most from the data.

There appeared to be advantages of working within all 3 departments but the biggest surprise for me was that in some cases web analytics sat within the finance department. Why is this? Well it appeared to be for 2 reasons- finance is closer to the CEO plus its also heavily focused on facts/figures and ROI- essentially another data hub.

While no-one had the holy grail answer as to where web analytics should sit in an organisation, we all agreed that web analytics needs to be placed as high up in an organisation as possible- employees need to work closely with C-level and be able to communicate freely and regularly with most other departments to keep the data insights flowing. It was also said that the web analytics team itself needs to be a combination of people who are responsible for the day-to-day reporting (book-keeping) while the second element people who lead the strategic and creative side.

There was also a discussion around reporting and a fellow participant mentioned that for a long time his company spent a lot of effort doing management reports but the insights never got anywhere so they scrapped this and started to produce reports for those who were making daily decisions about where money is being invested to drive outcomes on the site i.e. paid search teams and it was this approach that started to reap movement and results.

Lastly, most agreed that it was better for web analytics teams to be built and sit within an organisations with the help of an independent and external view from a consultant as the external view can sometimes provide that ‘kick-up-the-ass’ and knowledge that is required to make web analytics flourish in an organisation.

Stay tuned for a recap of the afternoon session on Day 1, coming soon….

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