Analytics is overwhelming. Lots of people think that tracking 73 different metrics means they've solved their analytics problem. Don't do it! Unless you've got employees twiddling their thumbs, you'll never be able to handle that many metrics.
You need to think about analytics differently. That's what we're here for.
Analytics is about learning.
To succeed, your team needs to learn as quickly as possible. It's the only way to make sure that every new release is better than your last one. Unfortunately, learning is almost never the priority.
Most web products get made like this:
- Build the product.
- Throw in analytics.
- Pull up your analytics. Get overwhelmed. Go back to building product.
Where did the learning happen? What was the point of looking at the analytics? Why'd you even set up any analytics in the first place?!
That leaves us with a disappointing process for making web products:
- Build the product
That's a recipe for failure.
We know a better way.
The Lean Startup, which you've probably heard about but never actually read, advocates a much more successful process:
- Build an experimental product.
- Measure how people respond to your experiment.
- Learn whether your experiment worked or not.
The trick though, is that you actually start with step 3.
First, you have to decide what you want to learn. Then, you figure out how you're going to measure it. And only after that do you build your experiment.
That is the most important thing about analytics! If you take nothing else away from this series, take this: Before you build anything, decide what you're going to learn from building it.
This process is enormously successful at companies of all sizes. We dug up some of their stories to help you understand how to do it yourself:
All right, it's homework time! Think about your own business and figure out what do you need to learn right now?
A good way to start is to think of your One Key Business Metric.
Anything you learn that improves that metric is gold. Your experiment will depend on what stage your business is in:
Just a landing page? Find an experiment that'll help you learn what people really need from your product. The analytics.js open-source launch above might give you some ideas.
Early version released? Find an experiment that'll help you learn how to get more active users. Take a second look at Twitter's social engineering experiment if you need inspiration.
Serious revenue? Find an experiment that'll help you learn how to make more money per user. The Airbnb photography experiment was brilliant because it made them more money as a side-effect of making their customers happier.
Once you've thought of your experiment, send us an email about it and one of our co-founders will reply with feedback on your plan.
Three random experimenters will get a free copy of The Lean Startup!
Each week in this course, we'll be giving you a new, bite-sized lesson on how to run exactly these kinds of experiments with different analytics tools. You won't want to miss it!